News / 

Two-sport star scores spot on LPGA tour

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Libby Smith was a two-sport athlete at the University of Vermont. The name of the game in both of her sports was to put the ball in the hole.

Smith was a standout point guard for the Catamounts' women's basketball team, but it was as captain of the men's golf team that she set the stage for her future.

Smith is one of the newest members of the LPGA tour, tying for second at qualifying school last week. She joins 36 other rookies in 2006, the LPGA's largest class ever.

"I've had aspirations to be a professional golfer for a long time," says Smith, 25. Her initial hope for her first LPGA season is simple. "I want to keep my card. My goals are really just to become more consistent ... and to try and be in contention every week."

Smith grew up in Essex Junction, Vt., minutes from the Vermont campus in Burlington, and became a local hero for the Catamounts. She led them to the 2000 NCAA tournament as a sophomore and finished 15th in scoring, third in assists and tied for first in games played on Vermont's career lists.

Though basketball and golf don't seem to have many similarities, Smith sees how her experience as a point guard has delivered an assist.

"My golf has benefited from my basketball," Smith says. "The mental game ... in terms of handling pressure situations, playing in front of a crowd. I was never the best player on the team skill-wise, just over the years I learned how to win. I never count myself out of a round. I know I can come back and make some birdies."

And playing for the men's golf team -- Vermont didn't have a women's team -- gave her a taste of the kind of competition she'll face on the pro tour.

"The guys were great," she says. The lengths were a challenge, playing from the same tees as the men, "but it gave me a chance to play some competitive golf."

Since turning pro in 2003, Smith has gained experience in Europe, in Asia and on the U.S. Futures Tour. A pair of top-10 finishes this year on the Futures Tour and earning an exemption on the European tour helped boost Smith's confidence.

A final-round pairing in Singapore with veteran LPGA star Laura Davies also proved helpful.

"Just to be able to play with her and talk with her ... to have a chance to pick her brain" provided a boost, Smith says. Although not always for her confidence.

Though Davies is known for her length off the tee -- "She went by me with a 3-iron" -- it was her touch that gave Smith a good idea of where her game needs work.

"I learned I need to work on my iron play, my approach shots. I think I putted first on every hole," Smith says. "That opened my eyes."

After the holidays in Vermont, Smith will go to Tampa to work on her game and will play two January events in Taiwan before she makes the transition to the LPGA.

The new faces and the different level of competition will be the toughest part of the transition, Smith says. Fortunately, there will be a familiar face along for the ride. Brother Zach, with whom she learned the game, will be her caddie. And, anyway, the transition game should be no problem for an old point guard.

To see more of, or to subscribe, go to

© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast